Three splendid days in Harsefeld - 51 films from seven countries at the European Circle of Authors Film Festival
In the beginning there was the wish: Wolfgang do it again! And Wolfgang Thomas didn't have to think for long whether yes or no. After the much-vaunted success that he had achieved with the Euro-Filmfestival 2016 in Ahrensburg, he felt so much euphoria that it was easy for him to give in to the pressure and tackle the organisation of the 2017 festival. And then he got started almost without a break.
Since then, the Euro-Filmfestival 2017 is over and thus a year of organisational work is also over for Wolfgang Thomas and the fine team he put together, including Heino Schenck and Peter Klüver as the most dedicated helpers, and Antje Klüver, Ilka Burmeister, Hannelore Thomas, Georg Brand, Bernd Stirnat, Horst Burmeister, Sigmar Klapperstück, Dieter Schlemmermeier and Max Conradt. This team met frequently throughout the year and came up with ideas and the know-how to put together a new festival in Harsefeld in the north of Germany, with energy and determination, which Eurofilmers are likely to talk about for a long time to come. There were three splendid days of festival with 51 films from the seven countries Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg, Holland, France and Norway.
At the beginning of the festival on the first of the three days, the President of the European Circle of Authors of Film and Video, Uwe Haase from Lübeck, welcomed the filmmakers, their relatives and guests to the 90-year-old Hotel-Kino Meyer in Flecken, Harsefeld, located about an hour's drive from Hamburg. He thanked Wolfgang Thomas and the organising team for their work in the multifaceted preparations and for the selection of Hotel-Kino Meyer, which he described as the "perfect location". The president also praised the creativity of the filmmakers, their artistic ideas and their diligence, and he thanked the jury, which had met weeks before the festival in Hamburg at Georg Brand's small cinema to judge the 51 films. Representing the mayor of Harsefeld, his deputy Joachim Panke referred to the Old Land, where large quantities of strawberries, cherries, pears and tons of apples are harvested year after year in the wide area around Harsefeld and where an incomparable sea of flowers can be admired in the spring.
And then the weekend kicked off with the 51 films judged by the jury: Hans Finnern from Switzerland, Werner Scheffknecht from Austria, Jon Gisle from Norway and from Germany: Helmi Hansen, Dr. Heinrich Nerowski, Rainer Drews and Peter Klüver as jury leader. The festival winner, and awarded one of the seven gold medals, was Frenchman Emmanuel Dubois with the film "Fridgemania", a bewildering humoresque that tells of the never-ending delivery of huge refrigerators to a cramped apartment. The Audience Award and also a gold medal went to Urs Schadegg from Switzerland for his film "Der goldene Berg" (The Golden Mountain), which caught the audience's breath because they witnessed men - and of course the filmmaker Schadegg as well - crawling on their bellies in search of gold in a wet, unbearably narrow rock tunnel. The remaining five gold medals went to Dieter Prill for "Wo ich wohne" (Where I Live), Paul Aegerter for "Marie", and Frank Lauter for "Im Reich des Laubfrosch" (In the Realm of the Tree Frog) , all three authors from Germany, gold also to the Viennese Harald Scholz for "Das Ende der Zukunft" (The End of the Future), and to the Swiss Willi Grau for "Der Ruf der eisigen Winde" (The Call of the Icy Winds) The fact that seven gold medals, 16 silver medals, 23 bronze medals and five diplomas of commendation were awarded shows that the level of the films, the discovery of ideas and the cinematic implementation of themes have further improved. This can and should be seen as the main achievement and success of this 37th Euro-Filmfestival.
After the screening of the last seven films on Saturday morning, some of the authors and guests went by bus to Worpswede, the artists' village near Bremen, where Paula Modersohn-Becker had lived. There was a guided city tour and after coffee and cake there was also a carriage ride around Worpswede. Meanwhile, those who stayed behind in the nostalgic Meyer cinema watched four outstanding films that had won awards at various previous festivals, namely "Briefe an Mutter"(Letters to Mother) by Filippo Lubiato,"Gelbes Gold zum Tor der Hölle" (Yellow Gold from the Gates of Hell) by Hansruedi Wiget,"Tempelleben" (Temple Life) by Michael Preis and the magnificent, emotionally charged film "Steins Abschied" (Stein’s Farewell) by Otto Horn.
And that's not all. In the evening in every room of the Hotel-Kino the films honoured by the festival were shown. Dainty, very young girls and adult women presented very different dances perfectly. It was astonishing because all the girls and women belonged to different dance groups, based in the relatively small town of Harsefeld. In any case, there was enthusiastic and heartfelt applause for them and Petra Hansen and Christiane Reese, the group leaders. Between the individual dances, Wolfgang Thomas and the director of the European Circle of Authors, Anni Bergauer, presented the awards to the filmmakers. EAK President Uwe Haase concluded by saying: “The international festival in Harsefeld has been a very good one, and with it an exciting and creatively interesting film year is coming to an end, which left nothing to be desired in terms of creativity" He thanked the jury, especially Wolfgang Thomas and the organising team, and last but not least the filmmakers for their imaginative, highly creative films.
The final buffet and the cosy get-together afterwards lasted until after midnight and ended three beautiful, harmoniously staged film festival days. And next year at the end of September? On to Bludenz for the 38th European Circle of Authors' Film Festival.
Max Conradt received a silver award for „Do you know Brahms?“